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A     [top]    
Aburage Japanese-style fried bean curd. unlike the Chinese type (dow foo pok) which comes in cubes, aburage is prepared in thin sheets, square or rectangular, and is sold frozen. It can be kept frozen for months.  
Agar-agar A setting agent obtained from seaweed. Widely used in Asia, for it sets without refrigeration. Available in powder form from chemists or in packets from Chinese grocers or health food stores. It is also sold in strands. Gelatine can be substituted, but texture will be different and the amount used varies.  
Ajowan Of the same family as parsley and cummin, the seeds look like parsley or celery seeds, but have the flavor of thyme. It is used in Indian cooking, particularly in lentil dishes that provide the protein in vegetarian diets, both as a flavoring and as a carminative. It is one of the seeds used to flavor the crisp-fried snacks made from lentil flour.  
Aka Miso Red bean paste. See miso.  
Amchur Dried green mango, usually available in powder form. Used as an acid flavoring ingredient in Indian cooking.  
Annatto seeds Also called achuete, these are small red seeds used for coloring and flavoring Filipino food. Substitute paprika and turmeric in give amounts.  
Aromatic Ginger see galangal  
Atta Fine wholemeal flour used in making Indian flat breads. Substitute fine wholemeal sold in health food stores. Can bought from stores specializing in Asian foods.  
B     [top]    
Bagoong Also known as shrimp sauce, is a soft, thick paste made from shrimps or prawns that have been salted and fermented in earthenware pots. It has a strong odor and taste and is used in cooking as well as condiment, particularly in the Philippines.
Bamboo shoot Cream colored, cone shaped shoots of bamboo. Crunchy in texture and with a subtle, refreshing taste, these are the edible young shoots of certain types of bamboo. Spring bamboo shoots are pale, fibrous and chunky; winter shoots are thinner with a finer texture and more pronounced flavor. Fresh bamboo shoots are hard to get and if not already prepared, must be peeled then pre-boiled to remove toxic hydrocyanic acid. Boil whole or in chunks for 5 minutes or more until they no longer taste bitter. Canned and bottled bamboo shoots are the ones most often used. Once opened, store covered with fresh water up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Change water once every 4 to 5 days.
Banana Leaves The large flexible leaves of the banana plant are used throughout Asia to wrap foods for steaming or baking. They keep the food moist and impart a mild flavor. Remove the thick central stalk, rinse the leaves well and blanch in boiling water to soften. Foil can be used as an alternative.
Barbecue Sauce A reddish sauce, very salty and at the same time heavily sweetened. use as a dip or as an ingredient in barbecue marinades. Keeps indefinitely in a covered jar.  
Barbecued Chinese Pork It is also known as cha siew. These are strips of pork fillet which have been marinated in five spice powder, soy sauce, sugar and red coloring (usually from annatto seeds) then barbecued over charcoal.
Basil Used in Indonesian cooking, the leaves add distinctive flavor to those dishes requiring it. There are 3 varieties of basil often used in Asian cooking. All of which are very aromatic. If any are unavailable, substitute fresh sweet basil with fresh coriander in cooked dishes and fresh mint in salads.  
Basil, Lemon (bai manglak) Has a small green leaves with a lemony scent and peppery flavor. it is usually sprinkled over salads or used in soups. Its seeds (luk manglak) are used in desserts and drinks.
Basil, Purple or Holy Basil (bai kaphroa) Has a narrow, dark, purple-reddish tinged leaves with a pungent, clove-like taste. It is added to stir-fries and strong flavored curries.
Basil, Thai (bai horapha) It has a slightly serrated green leaves on purple stems. It has a sweet anise flavor and is used in stir-fries, red and green curries, shredded in salads and as a garnish for soups.
Bean curd, fermented (fu yu) Fermented white bean curd with a cheese flavor. It is sold bottled in half inch thick  squares. Keeps in refrigerator indefinitely after opening.  
Bean curd, fresh (tofu) Usually square shaped, creamy textured, bland curd made from soybeans. Also comes deepfried and canned. Fresh bean curd, covered with water, can be kept in the refrigerator for approximately one week.  Remove from original package and replace with fresh water as soon as possible. Change water every 2 days to keep fresh. Also see tofu.  
Bean curd, red (nam yu) Sometimes called wet bean curd. Red soft cubes of fermented bean curd with a strong cheesy flavor. Comes in cans. Once opened, store in jars with a tight lid in the refrigerator indefinitely.  
Bean filling, sweet Thick, sweet bean paste made from beans and sugar. Often used as filling for pastries. Usually sold in cans.  Store tightly covered in refrigerator or freezer indefinitely.  
Bean sauce, brown or yellow Sauce made from soybeans and salt. Often comes in cans. Some bean sauces may contain bean halves and others may be a smooth sauce, similar to Japanese red miso, which can be used as a substitute in some recipes. Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar.  
Bean threads (salfun or cellophane noodles) Thin, long dry noodles made of mung bean flour. Keeps on shelf indefinitely. Soak in warm water for 15 min before use. May also be deep-fried in hot oil. Do not soak in water if used for deep-frying. Use as a noodle in soups or with stir fried vegetables and meats. To keep clean up to a minimum, place noodles in a large paper bag before removing wrapper. Break off amount needed and store remainder in a bag.  
Bean paste, hot (chili paste with soybean) Soybean sauce made from soybeans, chili peppers and sometimes garlic. Comes in cans or jars. Refrigerated, keeps indefinitely in tightly sealed jars. Degree of hotness may vary between different brands. Brown soybean sauce combined with a hot sauce can be used as a substitute.  
Bean sprouts Sprouts of the mung bean, about 5 cm (2 in) long. Refrigerate sprouts covered with water. keeps for one week. Change the water every 3 days.  
Belacan See dried shrimp paste.
Beni Shoga Pickled ginger, colored red, and sold in plastic packets or in bottles. Used as a garnish or for flavor.  
Bitter melon Long, green, pear-shaped melon with a ridged surface. It has a definite bitter taste. Cut melon in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Cut in thin slices and stir-fry with meats.  
Black beans, fermented One of the most popular flavors in the cooking of southern China, black beans are dried soy beans that have been cooked and fermented with salt and spices. They are soft with a sharp, salty taste. Wash before use and lightly crush or chop to release the aroma. Black beans are available in cans or packets. Once opened, refrigerate in an airtight container.
Black Fungus Also known as cloud ear, this tree fungus has little flavor of its own, but is valued for its curnchy texture. it is most commonly available in its dried form, which looks like wrinkled black paper. before use, soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes or until the fungus swells to about rive times its original size.
Black sesame seeds See Sesame seeds (black)
Bok  Choy Also known as Chinese chard and Chinese white cabbage. Has fleshy white stems and leaf ribs and green flat leaves. It has a slightly mustardy taste. Separate the leaves, wash well and drain. The white stems can be sliced thinly and eaten raw. Look for firm stems and unblemished leaves. A smaller type is called baby bok choy or Shanghai bok choy. Keeps in refrigerator for one week. High in vitamins A and C.

Broccoli, Chinese A tender, green, seasonal vegetable available in spring and summer months. Chinese broccoli is more slender and leafy then regular broccoli.  
C     [top]    
Cambodian mint See Vietnamese Mint
Candle Nuts A hard oily cream-colored nuts used to flavor and thicken Indonesian and Malaysian curries. The shape is similar to macadamia nuts but have drier texture. The name arises because the nuts, when threaded on the mid-rib of a palm leaf, are used as a primitive candle. When roasted and ground, they are used not only to thicken but also to enrich curries and sauces. They should be stored in the freezer to prevent them becoming rancid. Candlenuts should not be eaten raw as the oil is thought to be toxic. They are quite safe once cooked.
Capsicum A much milder though still flavorful variety of chili with a long pod large enough to stuff with spiced meat or fish mixtures.  
Cardamom Next to saffron, the world's most expensive spice. Cardamoms grow mainly in India and Ceylon, and are the seed pods of a member of the ginger family. The dried seed pods are either pale green or brown, according to variety. Sometimes they are bleached white. They are added, either whole or bruised, to pilaus and other rice dishes, spiced curries and other preparations or sweets. When using whole pods, lightly bruise them before adding to the dish.
Cashew Nut A sweet, kidney-shaped nut. In countries where the cashew tree is not grown, it is not possible to ger the milky sweet fresh cashews. However, it is possible to buy raw cashews from nut shops, health food stores and grocers specializing in Asian ingredients.  
Cha Siew See Barbecued Chinese Pork
Cellophane Noodles See Vermicelli, Dried Mung Bean
Chili Flakes They are dried red chilies that have been crushed, usually with the seeds (leaving in the seeds increases the hotness). Store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.
Chili, fresh Long and are most commonly used in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking. Long thin chilies are hot but not overpowering.
Chili Padi (Bird's eye chilies) Very small and very hot chilies. Used mainly in pickles, though in some cases added to food when a very hot flavor is required as in some Thai food. Treat with extreme caution. Available fresh, dried or pickled in brine.
Chili Powder Made by finely grinding dried red chilies and can vary in hotness from mild to fiery. Chili flakes can be substituted but not Mexican chili powder, which is mixed with cumin.
Chili, dried red Vary in size and degree of heat, depending on which type has been dried 9it is not usually specified). Soak in hot water until soft, then drain well before adding to dishes. If preferred, remove the seeds before soaking to reduce the fieriness. The tiny chilies are very hot.
Chili Sauce There are two different types of chili sauce. The Chinese style is made from chilies, salt and vinegar and has a hot flavor. them Malaysian, Singaporean or Sri Lankan chili sauce is a mixture of hot, sweet and salty flavors generously laced with ginger and garlic and cooked with vinegar.  
Chinese Broccoli See Kai Lan
Chinese Cabbage Also known as celery cabbage and napa cabbage, has a long shape and closely packed broad, pale green leaves with wide white stems. It has a delicate mustard like flavor. This is the vegetable which is always used in cabbage rolls and Kim Chi.
Chinese Chard See Bok Choy
Chinese Chives See Garlic chives
Chinese Flowering Cabbage See Choy Sum
Chinese Kale See Kai Lan
Chinese Parsley See Coriander
Chinese White Cabbage See Bok Choy
Choy Sum Also known as Chinese flowering cabbage. It is slimmer than bok choy and has a smooth green leaves and pale green stems with clusters of tiny yellow flowers on the tips of the inner s hoots. The leaves and flowers cook quickly and have a light, sweet mustard flavor. The stems are crunchy and juicy.
Cilantro See Coriander
Cleaver The knife used to do most of all cutting in Chinese cooking. Usually a lighter, thinner cleaver is used for slicing and chopping meats and vegetables. The heavier cleaver is used to cut through bone.  
Cloud ears Brown, irregular, leafy shaped fungus or mushroom with a delicate taste. soak 15 min in warm water to soften. Rinse before using. Keeps indefinitely on shelf when dried. Also called tree ears. Also see Black Fungus
Cloves Cloves are the dried flower buds of an evergreen tropical tree native to South East Asia. They were used in China more than 2,000 years ago and were also used by the Romans. Oil of cloves contains phenol, a powerful antiseptic that discourages putrefaction and the clove is hence one of the spices that helps preserve food.  
Coconut Cream Also known as thick coconut milk which is extracted from the flesh of fresh coconuts and has a thick, almost spread able consistency. It is very rich.
Coconut Milk Not the water inside the nut but the creamy liquid extracted from the grated flesh of fresh coconuts or from desiccated (shredded) coconut. This is the second process after the coconut cream has been pressed out and has a much thinner consistency. Once opened, the milk or cream does not keep, so freeze any leftovers.  
Coriander In United States, it is known as cilantro and Chinese parsley. All parts of this aromatic plant from the seeds, leaves, stem and root can be eaten. The leaves add an earthy, peppery flavor to curries and are used in salads and as a garnish, and the stems and roots are ground for curry pastes. Dried coriander cannot be used instead. Store a bunch of fresh coriander by standing in a glass of water, tying a plastic bag over the top of the plant and glass and refrigerating.
Crisp fried garlic and onion These are very thin slices of garlic cloves and onions or red Asian shallots that have been deep-fried until crisp. They are used as a garnish and can be added to peanut sauce. Available in packets or they can be prepared at home.
Cumin These are small, pale brown, aromatic seeds that have a warm, earthy flavor. It its ground form, cumin is an essential component of curry pastes and many other spice mixes. Black cumin is smaller and darker than common cumin and sweeter in taste.
Curry leaves These small, shiny, pointed leaves from a tree native to Asia have a spicy fragrance and are used in southern India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia to impart a distinctive flavor to curries and vegetable dishes. Use as you would bay leaves annd remove before serving if required.
D     [top]    
Daikon Much used in Japanese and Chinese cooking. Some varieties of this carrot shaped white radish can grow up to 30 cm (12 inches) long. It has a similar taste and texture to ordinary radish and is grated and added to stewed dishes or mixed with finely chopped chilies as a relish.
Dashi Made from dried kelp (kombu) and dried fish (bonito), this is the basic stock used in  Japanese cooking. It is available as granules or powder which are dissolved in hot water to make up stock.
Daun Salam An aromatic leaf used in Indonesian cooking, it is larger than the curry leaf used in India and Sri Lanka, but has a similar flavor. Substitute curry leaves.  
Dried red chili See Chili, dried red
Dried Shrimp Paste A pungent paste made from prawns or shrimps that have been dried, salted and pounded, and used in many South East Asian recipes. It is sold in blocks or flat slabs or cakes and will keep indefinitely. As it has a very pungent odor, it should be wrapped in plastic and sealed in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator or freezer to reduce the smell .The paste itself needs no refrigeration. Commercially sold as belacan. Use sparingly and always roast or fry before adding to a dish.
E     [top]    
Eggplant (Aubergine) Native to Asia, eggplants come in variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Tiny pea eggplants are small fat green balls which grow in clusters and can be bitter in flavor. They are used whole in Thai curries or raw in salads.
Eggplant (Slender) Also called baby or Japanese eggplants. They are used in Indian curries and vegetarian cooking, where they readily absorb the flavors. The common eggplant used in Western cooking can be substituted.  
F     [top]    
Fenugreek An important ingredient in Indian cooking, the dried seeds from this plant of the pea family are small, oblong and orange-brown. They are usually gently dry-fried, then ground and added to curry paste. in Sri Lanka, a few seeds are often used whole in seafood curries. Use sparingly, as the flavor can be bitter.
Fish sauce This thin, clear, brown, salty sauce, with its characteristic 'fishy' smell and pungent flavor, is an important ingredient in Thai, Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian cooking. It is made from shrimp or small fish that have been fermented in the sun. Its strong flavor diminishes when cooked with other ingredients.
Five spice powder Blend of five ground spices; Szechwan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, fennel and cloves. Keeps on shelf for several months. This fragrant, ready-mixed ground spice blend is used extensively in Chinese cuisine. Use sparingly as it can overpower lesser flavors.
Fukkien noodles See Noodles Hokkien
G     [top]    
Galangal Galangal root is similar in appearance to its close relative ginger, but it is a pinkish color and has a distinct peppery flavor. Use fresh galangal if possible. When handling, take care not to get the juice on your clothes or hands, as it stains. Dried galangal, sold in slices, must be soaked in hot water before it can be used. Galangal can also be bought sliced and bottled in brine. Galangal powder is also known as Laos powder.
Garam masala This is a mixture of ground spices which usually includes cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves and mace or nutmeg, although it can sometimes be made with mostly hot spices or with just the more fragrant spices. Commercially made mixtures are available, but garam masala is best freshly made. Unlike other spice mixtures, it is often added close to the end of the cooking time.  
Garlic Garlic is used in large quantities in all Asian cooking except Japanese. Asian varieties are often smaller and more potent. Pickled garlic is used as a garnish and relish.  
Garlic chives Also known as Chinese chives, these thick, flat, garlic-scented chives are stronger in flavor than the slender variety used in Western cooking. The plump flowerbud is edible.
Ginger root Irregular bulb of the ginger plant. Hot and spicy in taste. Slice ginger and freeze separately slices. Keeps in the freezer indefinitely. Peel ginger and store in rice wine. Slice and use as needed. It is an indispensable ingredient in every Chinese cuisine. Look for firm, unwrinkled roots and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The brown skin is usually peeled off before use. Ground ginger cannot be substituted for fresh.
Glass noodles See Vermicelli, Dried Mung Bean
Golden needles (dried Tiger Lily buds The buds of a special type of lily. Sold in dried form, should be soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and the hard stems removed. They are often used in combination with wood ears.
Green onions See Spring onions
Green seaweed This moss-like seaweed is dark green in color. It is sold dried, in wads or in matted chips.  When deep-fried in oil, it is crisp and has a toasted fragrance. Dried green cabbage leaves can be used as a substitute.
H     [top]    
Harly melon (jit gwa) Oval shaped, green melon with a hairy surface. Peel, slice thin and use in soup.  
Hoisin sauce Pungent, sweet condiment sauce made of soybeans, spices, chili and sugar. Once opened, store in a jar with tight lid. It has a biting, sweet-spicy flavor. It is used in cooking and as a dipping sauce, usually with meat and poultry dishes. Keeps refrigerated for about 6 months.  
I     [top]    
J     [top]    
Japanese eggplants See Eggplants, Slender  
Japanese soy sauce See Soy Sauce, Japanese
Jelly fish Body of the jelly fish cut into shreds. Usually sold salted and packaged in plastic bags in the refrigerator  section. Store in refrigerator or freezer. Rinse off salt and soak in cold water before using.  
K     [top]    
Kai Lan Also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. It has smooth, round stems sprouting large dark green leaves and small, white flowers. The juicy stems, trimmed of most of their leaves, are the piece of the plant which is most commonly eaten. Kai Lan has a similar flavor to Western broccoli, but without the characteristic large flower heads.
Kecap manis Also known as sweet soy sauce. This thick, dark and sweet soy sauce is used in Indonesian cooking as a seasoning and condiment, particularly with satays. If it is not available, a substitute can be made by gently simmering 1 cup dark soy sauce with 6 tablespoons treacle and 3 tablespoons soft brown sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Korean vermicelli See Noodles, Potato starch
L     [top]    
Ladies finger See Okra
Laksa leaf See Vietnamese Mint
Lemon grass This long, grass-like herb has a citrus aroma and taste. Trim the base, remove the tough outer layers and finely slice, then chop or pound the white interior. For pastes and salads, use the tender white portion just above the root. The whole stem, trimmed, washed thoroughly and bruised with the back of a knife, can be added to simmering curries and soups (remove before serving). Dried lemon grass is rather flavorless so it is better to use lemon rind, although this will not duplicate the unique flavor.
Litchi nuts A sweet, white fruit about 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. It has a dark red hull which must be removed before eating. Also comes canned and dried. Use as a garnish or as a fruit.  
Long beans See Snake beans
Long beans, Chinese Foot long, thin green beans. When cooked, resemble string beans but have a more delicate flavor. Treat in same manner as regular green beans.  
M     [top]    
Maifun (rice noodles) Noodles made from rice flour. Soak until soft in hot water before using. Also, noodles may be deep-fried in hot oil. Do not soak before deep-frying. To keep clean up to minimum, place package of noodles in a large paper bag before removing wrapper. Break off amounts as needed. Store remainder in the bag.  
Mirin Japanese sweet rice wine used in cooking to bring out flavor or to add a little sweetness. Not interchangeable with rice wine. However sweet sherry can be substituted.  
Miso Fermented bean paste made from soybeans and rice. Used mainly in Japanese cooking. Red or ala miso is saltier and white or shiro miso is milder or sweeter. Red miso is a good substitute for brown bean sauce. Refrigerator miso in sealed containers indefinitely.
Mushroom, dried (forest or black) Dried black forest mushrooms have a delicate flavor. Can be stored in covered container on the shelf, indefinitely. Must soak in warm water until soft, rinse, discard stem and use in recipe.
Mushroom, Shiitake Closely related to the Chinese black mushroom and are the most commonly used mushrooms in Japan, They have a rich smoky flavor, are grown on the bark of a type of oak tree, and are used fresh or dried. The fresh mushroom has a fleshy, golden-brown cap and a woody stem. Only buy shiitake mushrooms as you need them. They tend to become slimy when stored in the refrigerator.
Mushroom, straw They are named for their growing environment - straw. They are cultivated throughout Asian and have globe shaped caps, are stemless and have a musty flavor. they are available in cans but need to be drained and rinsed before use.
Mustard, dried Pungent powder. When mixed with water, forms sauce which is used as a dip to accompany barbecued port and other foods. Store dry powder on shelf indefinitely.  
N     [top]    
Noodles, dried rice stick Short translucent flat noodles. They need to be soaked in hot water until soft, then cooked briefly in boiling water until just tender.
Noodles, dried soba A specialty of northern Japan. These are beige-colored noodles, made from a mixture of buckwheat and wheat flours. Some are even lightly flavored with green tea or beetroot. They are cooked in simmering water, then rinsed in cold water to cool before use. The boodles are served either hot in a broth or cold with a dipping sauce.
Noodles, fresh egg Made from egg and wheat flour and are pale yellow. Before use, they need to be shaken apart and cooked in boiling water until tender and then drained well. Fresh egg noodles are sold in a range of widths. The noodles are dusted lightly with flour before packing to stop them from sticking together. Store in the refrigerator.
Noodles, fresh rice Made from a thin dough of rice flour. This is steamed, giving it a firm, jellylike texture, then lightly oiled and packaged ready for use. The pearly white noodles need only to be rinsed in hot water to loosen and separate and then drained. They come in thick or thin varieties, or in a sheet that can be cut. used in stir-fries or added to simmering dishes near the end of cooking. Store in the refirgerator.
Noodles, Harusame Very fine, white, almost transparent Japanese noodles. They are made from mung bean flour and are very similar to dried mung bean vermicelli. Use in the same way.  
Noodles, Hokkien Also known as Fukkien or Singapore noodles. They are thick, yellow, rubbery-textured noodles from wheat flour. They are packaged cooked and lightly oiled and need no preparation before use. Simply stir-fry or add to soups or salads. Store in the refrigerator.
Noodles, potato starch Also known as Korean vermicelli. They are long, fine. green-brown. translucent dried noodles. Cook in rapidly boiling water for about 5 minutes or until plump and gelatinous. Overcooking will make them soggy.
Noodles, Shanghai White noodles made from wheat flour and water, similar to the somen boodles of Japan. They can be thick or thin. Cook in boiling water before use. Fresh noodles are dusted lightly with flour before packing to stop them from sticking together. Store in the refrigerator. Dried wheat flour noodles are also available.
Noodles, Shirataki A basic ingredient in the Japanese dish sukiyaki. Thin, translucent and jelly-like, they are made from the starchy root of a plant known in Japan as devil's tongue. They have a crunchy texture, but little flavor and are available fresh or dried. Store the fresh noodles in the refrigerator.
Noodles, Somen Fine, white, dried wheat flour noodles used in Japanese cooking. Before use, cook in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then rinse in cold water.
Noodles, Udon White wheat flour noodles used in Japanese cooking. They may be round or flat. Cook in boiling water or miso soup before used in Japanese soups and simmered dishes, or can be braised and served with a sauce.
Nori This is the most common form of dried seaweed used in Japanese and Korean cooking. It comes in paper thin sheets, plain or roasted. Before use, it can be toasted lightly over a naked flame to freshen and produce a nutty flavor. keep in an airtight container or in the freezer.
O     [top]    
Okra Also known as ladies finger, this vegetable of African origin is a narrow, 5 sided seed pod, pointed at one end and containing small white seeds; it has a gelatinous quality when it is cooked. It si much used in Indian cooking where it is added to curries and stir-fries, stuffed with spices and deep-fried, or pickled.
Oyster sauce Thick brown sauce made from oysters and soy sauce. Used to enhance flavor or as a dip. Although it is made from oysters and soy sauce, it does not have a fishy taste. Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.  
P     [top]    
Palm sugar Made from boiled down sap of several kinds of palm tree, including the palmyra palm and the sugar palm of India, palm sugar ranges in color from pale golden to dep brown. It is sold in block form or in jars. Palm sugar is thick and crumbly and can be grated or gently melted before use. Soft brown sugar can be used as a substitute.
Panko (dehydrated bread crumbs) Japanese dehydrated bread crumbs with a coarser texture than regular bread crumbs. Available at most supermarkets or oriental groceries. To make panko, use white bread and make coarse crumbs in the blender. Then dry crumbs slightly in the oven.  
Parsley, Chinese (corlander  or cilantro) A leafy parsley with a pungent flavor. Use as a garnish. Also may be used to add flavor to most dishes.  
Paw Paw, green Green paw paw is an under ripe paw paw. It is commomly used in Asian salads and some soups or as a snack with sugar and chili. To shred green paw paw, peel and slice finely. Sometimes lightly blanched before shredding.
Plum sauce This sweet-sour, jam like sauce is used in Chinese cooking and as a dip with fried meats and snacks. It is made from plumps, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar and spices.  
Q     [top]    
R     [top]    
Red Asian shallots See Shallots, red Asian
Rice Flour (Asian) Asian rice flour is ground from short-grain rice. it has a fine, light texture and is used in noodles, pastries and sweets. It gives a crunch to fried foods if used in a batter or as a coating.  
Rice Flour (Atta) Also known as chapatti flour, is a finely milled, low gluten, soft textured, wholemeal wheat flour used for making Indian flatbreads, especially parathas and chapattis. plain wholemeal flour can be used instead - sift first and discard the bran but may result in heavier, coarser bread.  
Rice Flour (Besan) It is a pale yellow, finely milled flour mamde from dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Used in Indian cooking to make batters, dough, dumplings and pastries. It has a slightly nutty aroma and taste. It is unleavened, so produces a heavy texture.  
Rice vinegar This clear, pale yellow, mild and sweet-tasting vinegar is made from fermented rice. Diluted white wine vinegar or cider vinegar can be substituted.  
Rice wine, Chinese Also known as Shaosing, is amber-colored with a rich, sweetish taste. Dry sherry can be substituted but not grape wines as they are not suitable.  
S     [top]    
Saffron Powder and threads Made from the dried thread-like stigmas of the saffron crocus, this costly spice adds a vivid yellow color and subtle flavor to food. It is available as bright orange threads or ground into powder. Saffron threads are usually soaked in a little warm water before use, then squeezed out to release the color into the water. The threads and liquid are then both added to dish to give the characteristic saffron coloring.
Sake A clear-colored Japanese liquor made from fermented rice. It should be used within a year of manufacture and once a bottle is opened, it should be used as soon as possible or it will begin to lose its flavor.  
Sambal Oelek This is a hot paste made from fresh red chilies, mashed and mixed with salt. it is used as a relish in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking and can be used as a substitute for fresh chilies in most recipes. Covered, it will keep for months in the refrigerator.
Sausage, Chinese (lap cheong) Cured pork sausages about 15 cm (6 in) in length with a sweet flavor. Refrigerate up to one month or freeze up to several months.  
Scallions See Spring onions  
Seaweed, dried Dried seaweed is usually available in sheets. Keeps indefinitely on the shelf. Some seaweed sheets are more expensive because they are roasted and seasoned. These are used in Japanese cooking.
Sesame seed oil Golden brown oil of sesame seeds and very aromatic. Has a rich and nutty flavor and is used as a flavoring in Chinese, Korean and Japanese dishes and is not used for frying Buy in small quantities and store in a cool dark place. Do not refrigerate as it will turn cloudy. Add to dishes just before serving.  
Sesame seed (white) The tiny, oval, oil-rich seeds of an annual herb, sesame seeds are used throughout Asia for their flavor and their high protein content. The white sesame seeds are the most commonly used. They are toasted and crushed and are an essential ingredient in Japanese and Korean dressings, dipping sauces and marinades. Whole seeds are used as a garnish for both savory and sweet dishes and breads. Pressed seeds are made into a variety of pastes. Japanese sesame seeds are plumper and have a nuttier flavor than other sesame seeds.
Sesame seed (black) Black sesame seeds have a more earthy taste. They are used in sesame and seaweed sprinkle, a Japanese condiment and in some Chinese desserts.
Shallots, red Asian Small reddish-purple onions, these grow in bulbs, like garlic and are sold in segments that look like large cloves of garlic. They have a concentrated flavor and are easy to slice and grind. If unavailable. substitute French shallots or brown or red onions.
Shaosing See Rice Wine, Chinese  
Shoshoyu See Soy Sauce, Japanese
Shrimp, dried Dried tiny shrimp. Soak in warm water for about 1/2 hour to soften before use. Keeps on shelf indefinitely in covered jars.
Shrimp sauce See Bagoong
Singapore noodles See Noodles Hokkien
Snake beans Also called long beans and yard-long beans. This bean grows wild in tropical Africa, where it probably originated. Growing to 38 cm (15 inches) and more long, with a crunchy texture and similar taste to green beans, they are available in two varieties : pale green with slightly fibrous flesh, and darker green with firmer flesh. Use when as fresh as possible. Just snip off the ends and cut into bite-sized pieces. String-less green beans can be used instead.
Snow peas (Chinese pea pods) Flat edible pea pod. Has a delicate taste and comes fresh or frozen. Must string as in green beans before cooking.  
Soy sauce The extract of fermented soybeans combined with salt. Soy sauce range from light to dark. Light soy sauce is the most delicate, and is used as a dip or in cooking; gives little color. Some dark soy sauce has caramel added for color and is slightly sweet. Japanese soy sauce is in the middle and serves most purposes very well.  
Soy sauce, Japanese Japanese soy sauce is also known as shoshoyu and is less salty, much lighter and sweeter than standard soy sauce and because it is naturally brewed, it must be refrigerated after opening.
Spring onions Also called green onions and scallions, these are immature onions which are pulled before the bulb has started to form and sold in bunches with the roots intact. Discard the roots and base of the stem, and wash the stem leaves well before use. Spring onions add color and a mild onion flavor and they need little cooking.
Star anise The dried star-shaped seed pod of a tree native to China, star anise adds a distinctive aniseed taste to long-simmered meat and poultry dishes and is one of the components of five spice powder. Available whole or ground.
Stir fry To toss, cook or saute in English, Chow in Chinese. Slices of vegetables, meats, or a combination are cooked quickly in the wok with a small amount of oil. Liquid may be added to make a sauce and cornstarch is used for thickening. Foods retain more food value, color and texture.  
Sweet soy sauce See Kecap Manis
Szechwan peppercorns Reddish-brown  peppercorns, much stronger than either black or white peppercorns of the West. Usually sold in plastic bags. Will keep indefinitely in a tightly sealed container.
Szechwan vegetable The knobby bulb of a radish preserved in chili pepper and salt. Rinse before using. Store airtight in jar. Refrigerate indefinitely. No substitutes.  
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Tamarind The tropical tamarind tree bears fruit in pods like large, brown beans. The fruit is tart-tasting and has fibrous flesh and a flat stone at the centre. An essential flavor in many Asian dishes, tamarind is available in bottles as tamarind concentrate (also known as tamarind puree), a rich brown liquid and as blocks of compressed pulp that has to be soaked, kneaded and seeded.
Tiger lily flowers Dried golden brown tiger lily flowers; about 5cm (2 in) long. Soak in warm water about 15 min and rise before use. Keeps indefinitely on shelf when dry.  
Tofu Also called bean curd, tofu is a processed extract of soy beans. It is an excellent source of protein and is available fresh or deep-fried. Fresh tofu comes in two forms : a soft, white variety also known as silken tofu, which is cut into cubes and used in Japanese dishes. Another type is a firmer variety which is cut into cubes, wedges or slices and deep-fried. Both are available in blocks sealed in plastic. Once opened, store in the fridge in water and change the water daily. Use within a few days.  
Tofu pouches Also known as inari, are deep-fried, thin slices of tofu, crisp on the outside and dry on the inside than can be cut open to form bags. In Japan, inari are stuffed with vegetables or vinegar-seasoned rice. They can also be added whole or shredded to soups and other dishes.  
Tofu puffs They are cubes of tofu that have been deep-fried until they are puffed and golden.
Turmeric This is a bitter-tasting spice which comes from the root of a plant related to ginger. it is used for its intense, bright yellow-orange color, dried and ground. It is the main ingredient in many curry powders. The fresh root is used in the same way as fresh ginger root. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Turnip, Chinese (lo bok or daikon) Crisp large white root vegetable resembling a large carrot. Peel skin and slice or shred before cooking. Store in the refrigerator.  
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Vermicelli, dried mung bean Also known as cellophane noodles and glass noodles. They are wiry, threadlike, translucent noodles made from mung beans. They are tough and difficult to break and may need to be soaked in warm water so they can be cut into shorter lengths for boiling or adding to stir-fries. Small bundles of unsoaked noodles can be deep-fried for use as a garnish.
Vermicelli, dried rice Thin translucent noodles. They need to be soaked in hot water until tender, then drained thoroughly before being used in stir-fries and soups. Small bundles of un-soaked noodles, quickly deep-fried until they expand, can be used as a garnish.
Vietnamese Mint Also called laksa leaf and Cambodian mint, this trailing herb with narrow, pointed, pungent-tasting leaves does not belong to the mint family despite its common name. its flavor resembles coriander but slightly sharper and it is eaten raw in salads.
Vinegar, rice A mild vinegar made from rice. Used in most oriental dishes. Keeps indefinitely on the shelf.  
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Wasabi Also known as Japanese horseradish. This is a pungent paste made from the knobbly green root of the wasabi, a plant native to Japan. it is used as a condiment with seafoods and is extremely hot, so use sparingly.
Water chestnuts Walnut sized, brown bulb. Must be peeled before use. It is sweet and has a crisp texture similar to apples. Canned water chestnuts are peeled and boiled. They will keep covered with fresh water, in the refrigerator, for about 2 weeks. Change the water once a week.
Watercress Introduced into Asia by the British, its peppery flavor is added to soups and steamed vegetables in Chinese cooking, and it is used in salads in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Also use as a garnish in Japan.  
White sesame seeds See Sesame seeds (white)
Wine lees A thick fermented wine paste. Light miso (Japanese soybean paste) can be used as a substitute.  
Wine, Shaohsing or rice Chinese rice wine used for drinking or cooking. Dry sherry may be used as a substitute in cooking.  
Winter melon (tung gwa) A large light green melon with a white powdery surface resembling a water melon. The inside is white with seeds in the center. Usually sold in sections. Peel hard skin and discard seeds. Slice melon and use in soups.  
Wok The wok is a metal pan with sloping sides and a rounded or flat bottom. The 35cm (14 in) wok is the best size for home use.  
Won tons Fresh squares of noodle dough. Usually comes in one pound packages. Thickness varies from thick to thin. Fresh won tons will keep in the refrigerator for a week. Can be frozen, wrapped air tight, for about 2 months. Use thick wrappers for deep-fried won tons. Thin wrappers are better for soups.  
Wood ears See cloud ears
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Yard-long bean See Snake beans
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